The main purpose of the CERN Alerter application is to provide one-way messaging system for distributing important CERN information to the users. Information is distributed in form of special RSS feeds. In addition to that some functionality for handling other normal RSS feeds has been provided.
CERN Alerter is a CMF Plug-in (see more about CMF) which provides the following functionalities:
- A way for service managers to communicate with their user community. All users are automatically subscribed to the mandatory information line (RSS feed) defined by service managers.
- A way to send alerts with the possibility to target a message to groups of users or computer.
- A way to use CERN Alerter functionality for other feeds present in the Microsoft feed repository (accessible via Internet Explorer) i.e. non-obligatory CERN feeds and other user specified feeds.
Despite the fact that CERN Alerter is based on RSS as a transport protocol, it might not fully replace a standard RSS reader. It provides a convenient feed monitoring and notification mechanism. User can also use Internet Explorer 7.0 as a RSS feed reader on standard NICE desktop.
We identify 3 types of messages, which can be sent to the user:
- Alert - once it is posted by the service managers, it pops-up on the screen of the targeted users/computers within next 5 minutes. It will display an Internet Explorer window with the content of the message. One can see the detailed information about the users to whom the message was targeted by activating the drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the window - by moving the mouse pointer over the grey box. Here is an example of the alert message:
Note! Alerter will not display alerts (neither popups nor balloons) when the user is running a full screen application (i.e. PowerPoint/acrobat reader in presentation mode).
- Important Message - is a message which sender intends to popup on the screen of the targeted user/computer in the same way as Alerts but in a more discreet way. Such messages will popup a window after the next 6 AM, which means that for most of the users it will show up during the night and will be on the screen once they come to work in the morning. As an option (set by default) user can receive notification balloons as soon as the message is available:
A balloon is clickable. Once clicked, a window with full message pops-up.
See Settings section if you want to know how to turn off notifications.
- Information - this message will never popup on the screen of the targeted user/computer. Information messages are available for reading in the RSS feed (accessible through History menu item - see History section). As an option (turned off by default) user can enable balloon notifications for information messages (see Settings section).
There are three possible types of feeds in the repository:
CERN Alerter settings are available from the CMF context menu. Just right-click on the CMF icon in the Windows system tray, click CERN Alerter item and select Settings:
- CERN obligatory feeds - subscription of these feeds is enforced by the service managers and the user can neither unsubscribe nor remove these feeds. These feeds contain important CERN information for users.
- CERN non-obligatory feeds - these are the CERN feeds which subscription is not enforced on user's machine - user can decide whether to monitor them. The list of all the CERN feeds is available under "Add feed" button.
- Any RSS feeds - all type of private user feeds (news, etc.)
You should then see the window below. The first tab contains CERN obligatory feeds only. These feeds subscription is enforced by the service managers and the user cannot neither unsubscribe nor remove these feeds. Two available options allow you to turn on/off notification balloons for Important and Information Messages.
The second tab gives you possibility of subscribing and configuring custom behaviour for any other RSS feed.
Three different types of the feeds (discussed here) are marked by the icon attached (see the legend). Obligatory feeds cannot be changed on this tab and therefore are grayed out (you can tune some settings on a previous tab labeled "Obligatory Feeds"). However, you can change here some settings for two other types of feeds.
There are also CERN feeds that user can subscribe to but which do not belong to the obligatory feeds. As all CERN feeds, they carry special information about severity levels of the message the user is given an option to configure the notification for these "non-obligatory" feeds in a similar way as for the obligatory feeds. In addition to that one can choose which messages to receive - either just those targeted directly to one's computer or all the messages. Detailed information about these options may be found under the help button.
Finally, there are user's private feeds. These are normal RSS feeds (without CERN specific attributes) which are present in the feed repository. User can enable the notification in case of new items. Two options are possible, either a balloon or a popup window.
New feeds can be added to the repository using the button "Add Feed". In the upper part of the window one can see the list of all the CERN feeds that are available. New subscriptions can be added with just one click. If one wishes to add private feed to the repository, then one has to provide both the feed name and feed URL.
New folder can be created by using "Add Folder". User has to provide folder name.
At any time, RSS feed with all historical messages is available for reading. It is available by clicking the History menu item of CERN Alerter section of CMF context menu:
Once you click this menu item, a Internet Explorer window will open with a feed content displayed:
Note the URL of the feed opened. It should be in the form:
where LOGIN is your NICE account name and COMPUTERNAME is a name of your computer. This feed contains all messages which has ever been sent to you. If you want to see all messages, which have ever been sent to any user at CERN, you should type the following URL in your browser:
As the new CERN Alerter is based on the RSS protocol, any RSS reader can be used to read messages. Using a standard RSS reader you will be however limited in functionality in a sense that no message-type dependent behavior (popups and balloons) will be available. Here you can find some instructions on how to configure Linux and Mac OS X computers:
- If you have a Google Toolbar installed in your Internet Explorer you will see the following security warning in the alert window:
Please just ignore warnings or remove Google Toolbar from the available IE toolbars.
- If you have the Avant browser installed on your computer (http://www.avantbrowser.com/) you will not receive the alerts. There is a problem that prevents displaying the alerts in that browser.